2009 Report Card: Danilo Gallinari

Gallinari’s first year in America was a comedy of errors. When the player New York reportedly coveted (Russell Westbrook) went one pick earlier, Gallinari was seemingly taken as Plan B. In his first preseason game Gallinari faced a 300+ lb behemoth in Robert “Tractor” Traylor, and promptly hurt his back. The youngster sat out the rest of preseason, but was ready when the season started. In the Knicks first game, D’Antoni played Gallo over Marbury prompting fans to inexplicably cheer for Stephon. After his second game, Gallinari’s back prevented him from playing until mid-January. The rookie played spot minutes for 2 months before calling it a season.

I think it’s safe to say that Gallo’s rookie season is one he, the team, Knick fans, and perhaps all of Italy are hoping to forget. On the court the youngster appeared robotic at times, no doubt a result of his back injury. He didn’t have a full range of motion, almost as if the uniform guy put way too much starch in his jersey. Judging a 20 year old from 400 minutes isn’t very reliable but factor in a bad back, and it’s hard to separate Gallo’s attributes from his limitations due to injury. For instance his rebounding was extremely poor for a 6-10 forward, cleaning the glass at about the same rate (4.8 reb/36) as Nate Robinson (4.7 reb/36). He only blocked 4 shots all year (0.3 blk/36). But until he’s healthy for some serious minutes, we won’t know if these are areas that he needs to work on or if his back limited his production.

What we do know is that the kid can shoot, as Gallinari hit 44.4% of his threes and 96.3% of his ones. While it’s unlikely that he’ll keep his percentages that high for a full season, it’s likely that he’ll be an above average shooter over the course of his career. Gallo attempted to show his handle on the perimeter to mixed success. He definitely has some skill with the basketball and can go behind the back when needed, but he appears awkward when doing so. Save for his poor block rate, Danilo looked adequate defensively with above average lateral speed to and an eye for the ball (1.2 stl/36).

Using 400 injury-plagued minutes isn’t a good measure of any NBA player. For fun I decided to run my similarity scores for the 10 most comparable players. However due to the small sample size combined with Gallo’s youth, the first player is 2 standard deviations away (Julian Wright), and the second is 3 (C.J. Miles). I wouldn’t read too much into these.

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS% eFG% PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Danilo Gallinari 2009 NYK 13.4 .621 .576 14.9 1.1 4.8 1.3 1.2 0.3 1.3
.199 Julian Wright 2008 NOH 15.4 .581 .562 12.5 1.9 6.6 2.3 1.6 0.7 1.9
.220 C.J. Miles 2008 UTA 14.2 .574 .542 15.5 0.8 4.1 2.8 1.7 0.4 1.4
.241 Thaddeus Young 2009 PHI 15.3 .549 .524 16.0 1.9 5.3 1.2 1.4 0.3 1.6
.259 Mike Miller 2001 ORL 13.2 .541 .523 14.7 1.0 4.9 2.1 0.8 0.3 1.5
.289 Eric Gordon 2009 LAC 14.9 .593 .529 16.8 0.6 2.7 2.9 1.0 0.5 2.2
.296 Nicolas Batum 2009 POR 12.9 .555 .532 10.5 2.1 5.4 1.8 1.2 1.0 1.2
.303 Gerald Green 2006 BOS 13.1 .541 .500 16.1 1.0 3.9 1.7 1.3 0.4 2.1
.326 Rashard Lewis 2000 SEA 16.5 .543 .521 15.4 2.9 7.7 1.6 1.4 0.8 1.8
.345 Daniel Gibson 2007 CLE 9.4 .556 .537 10.1 1.0 3.4 2.5 0.8 0.3 1.6
.368 Adrian Dantley 1977 BUF 18.3 .601 .520 20.0 3.2 7.5 1.8 1.2 0.2  
.401 Mark Olberding 1977 SAS 14.2 .579 .503 15.8 3.0 8.3 2.2 1.1 0.5  

Just to expand things, I ran two queries from Basketball Reference to get some more similar players. The first of players 6-10 or taller who grabbed less than 5 rebounds per 36, and the second of players who hit 44% of their threes while attempting 6.0 or more per 36. The latter produced only 4 other players, the former 49, and surprisingly a lot fit Gallinari’s mold: Hedo Turkoglu, Rashard Lewis, Peja Stojakovic, Brent Barry, Danny Ferry, and Cliff Robinson. Although the Knicks were probably hoping for more out of the #6 pick, it’s not a bad group to be in. Consider that the aforementioned players have been cogs on teams that have all made it to the Finals.

Report Card (5 point scale):
Offense: 4
Defense: 2
Teamwork: 4
Rootability: 5
Performance/Expectations: 2

Knicks 2009 Summer League Roster

Looking over the Knicks’ roster there are 9 spots that are taken (Chandler, Curry, Duhon, Gallinari, Harrington, Hughes, Jeffries, Milicic, and Mobley). Two more are likely to be filled by Lee and Robinson. That leaves 4 spots possible for the summer league candidates, barring any offseason player movement.

Definites
It’s safe to assume that both draft picks Jordan Hill and Toney Douglas will be on the team’s roster come October. However it doesn’t mean the pair can relax in Vegas, as a poor showing could send them to D’Antoni’s doghouse before training camp even opens. Knick fans will expect both to make the rotation, Hill because of his status as lottery pick, and Douglas because of the lack of depth at guard. New York hopes both can help improve the team defensively, but they’ll need to prove that they’re capable on the offensive side as well. Both will need to play well now and in the preseason to make sure they aren’t sent to the D-League or practice squad. Considering their draft status and the competition, they should be able to give above average performances.

Probables
At the end of last year the team rotated in some NBDL players, and it looks like two stuck. Joe Crawford and Mouhamed Sene will be playing in the summer league, but they may need to prove their worth. Both of them combined for only 29 minutes last year, so the team isn’t committed to either. While Sene has more NBA experience, he’ll have tougher competition for playing time. New York has bolstered their front court by drafting Hill, trading for Darko, and hiding Eddy Curry’s Ring Dings. On the other hand Crawford will have less competition from the NBA roster, but might get pushed for playing time by Douglas and some of the other summer league guards New York. I wouldn’t bet on either player making the team, but they do have the inside track.

Possibles
One player that could push for a roster spot is Morris Almond. The Jazz selected him with the 25th pick in the 2007 draft, but Almond barely saw any NBA action in two seasons. However he was a prolific scorer in the NBDL, averaging 25.4 pts/36 over two seasons. Although this was due to his high usage (30.9%), to Almond’s credit his TS% was a robust 57.6%. One stat that did stand out in the NBDL is his free throw to field goal ratio. He hit .35 free throws for every shot attempted, and averaged 6.5 ftm/36. Clearly he’s skilled at drawing contact, and his 36.7% from downtown shows that he’s able to score from outside as well.

However Morris peripheral stats are weak. His rebounding numbers could be better for someone who stands 6-6, and his passing, steals, and blocks are weak for a shooting guard. Still he could provide some needed scoring off the bench and could be a poor man’s Allan Houston.

Another candidate is Blake Ahearn, a castaway from the Heat & Spurs. Like Almond, Ahearn dominated the NBDL, scoring 21.9 pts/36 on a sizzling 64.6% TS%. He connected on 43.4% of his three pointers, and was about as perfect as you get (95.5%) from the charity stripe. Unlike Almond, Ahearn has one peripheral stats that is above average, his 4.6 ast/36. At 6-2, Ahearn is more suited for point guard at the NBA level.

Doubtfuls
Yaroslav Korolev was drafted as an 18 year old by the Clippers in 2005 and spent two years in L.A. Yet even though he last suited up for an NBA game 3 years ago, he’s the second youngest player on the summer league team. Korolev is a 6-10 forward who’s father was a basketball coach and is rumored to have a sound all around game. At only 22 years old, he’s definitely young enough to be a “second draft” type of player.

Probably the last guy with a realistic shot at a roster spot is David Noel. He was a second round pick of the Bucks and didn’t play well in his one season. However he did well in the NBDL, scoring 17.1 pts/36 on 60.7 ts% and averaging 5.3 reb/36, 4.4 ast/36, and 1.7 stl/36. His free throw shooting was suspect (68.6%), but he was deadly from downtown (44.6%).

Please God No
Nokoloz Tskitishvili and Alex Acker are both 26 years old. Tskitishvili is looking for yet another chance at the NBA, while Acker is a combo guard who had 2 stints in the NBA (Pistons & Clippers). Nokoloz’s NBA numbers are laughably bad, while Acker’s D-League numbers aren’t very impressive (53.1% TS%).

Hey I Got Free First Row Tickets to the Summer League!
The summer league might be happy days for Valparaiso’s Ron Howard. Rashaad Singleton is a 7 footer, but barely played at Georgia. According to Wikipedia, Warren Carter plays in Spain and thinks Allen Iverson is the NBA’s best player. Wink Adams shot 26.9% from trey his last year at UNLV.

Who Am I Rooting For?
I think there’s the possibility that the Knicks could find a decent player here. I don’t think there are any NBA starters here, but certainly a few guys could contribute as reserves. After reviewing their numbers, Blake Ahearn is at the top of my list. I have a soft spot in my heart for snipers, and the Knicks really need more depth at point guard. I like Almond, but he scares me at the same time. His number suggest a typical me-first-shooter that’s indifferent to the other aspects of the game.

As for the rest, I hope Sene sticks around, even if it’s in the NBDL until New York moves Curry or Jeffries. Korolev has the most intriguing story, but his numbers are so bad as a teenager it’s hard to see him being good at this level. I don’t want Acker or Tskitishvili, and I sure hope the Knicks don’t fall in love with someone who is hot for a few games (*cough* Roberson *cough*). So that leaves Crawford or Noel. Perhaps Noel would be the better choice, considering D’Antoni had Crawford last year & barely used him.

2009 Report Card: Quentin Richardson

It’s amazing how Quentin Richardson’s 2009 season lines up with his career stats. Except for minor improvements in shooting and minor declines in rebounding, points scored, and free throw attempts, the two are identical.

Season G FGA TS% 3PA 3P% FTA FT% ORB TRB AST STL TOV PF PTS
2008-09 72 12.7 .510 6.3 .365 2.2 .761 1.3 6.1 2.2 0.9 1.4 2.5 13.9
Career 601 13.5 .499 5.7 .354 2.7 .712 1.7 6.4 2.1 1.0 1.6 2.6 14.7

Earlier in his career, Richardson was a more prolific scorer (16.8 pts/36 over his first 4 seasons) but it seems that injuries has robbed him of that ability (13.1 pts/36 since). These days Richardson’s main strength is his rebounding. He does try hard in other areas, including exerting effort on defense, but he’s just not very good at anything else. His three point shooting was at the league level (36.5%), but his overall offensive efficiency was way below it (TS%: 51.0%). The Knicks other swingmen, Chandler and Hughes, are both weak scorers around the hoop, yet they were still better at scoring from “close” (as defined by 82games). Of the three, Richardson had the lowest percentage made of “close” shots (eFG 51.1%) and the highest percentage of “close” shots blocked (17%). Quentin also sported the team’s lowest ratio of free throws made to field goals attempted (.13), a clear sign of poor inside scoring.

The problem wasn’t so much Richardson, but rather the Knicks’ reliance on him. Since coming to New York Q-Rich has started 85% of the games in which he appeared, including 51 of 72 last year. Wearing orange and blue, Richardson has averaged 28 minutes per game, far too much for someone approaching 29 with a moderate skill set.

For 2010 the goal should be to find a shooting guard that will allow Chandler to slide over to forward, or to get Gallo healthy enough for significant minutes at the three. Either of these should limit the time Richardson is on the floor. The Knicks were able to move Richardson this offseason for Darko Milicic to bolster the center position. This likely will open things up for Danilo Gallinari to assume more minutes at small forward.

Report Card (5 point scale):
Offense: 1
Defense: 3
Teamwork: 4
Rootability: 3
Performance/Expectations: 2

Grade: D+

Similarity Scores:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS% eFG% PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Quentin Richardson 2009 NYK 11.6 .510 .483 13.9 1.3 6.1 2.2 0.9 0.1 1.4
.051 Wesley Person 2000 CLE 12.0 .528 .509 12.7 0.8 4.7 2.6 0.7 0.3 1.1
.058 Chris Mills 1998 NYK 12.7 .512 .462 12.8 2.0 6.7 2.2 0.7 0.5 1.8
.062 Raja Bell 2005 UTA 12.2 .527 .495 15.5 1.0 4.0 1.8 0.9 0.2 1.6
.064 Larry Krystkowiak 1993 UTA 11.7 .524 .466 13.6 2.0 7.4 1.8 1.1 0.3 1.6
.064 Walter Herrmann 2008 TOT 13.2 .494 .458 14.8 2.1 7.0 1.7 0.7 0.1 1.2
.075 Dennis Scott 1997 ORL 12.4 .519 .496 13.7 0.7 3.4 2.3 1.2 0.3 1.3
.079 Bob Hansen 1989 UTA 9.7 .512 .498 12.7 1.1 4.8 1.9 1.4 0.2 1.6
.079 Devin Brown 2007 NOK 14.3 .538 .493 14.5 1.2 5.4 3.2 1.0 0.2 2.0
.080 Keith Bogans 2009 TOT 9.7 .521 .481 10.3 0.9 5.7 1.8 1.2 0.1 1.2
.084 Maurice Evans 2007 LAL 12.1 .523 .476 13.3 1.9 4.6 1.5 0.8 0.3 1.2
.093 Tayshaun Prince 2009 DET 15.0 .516 .477 13.7 1.5 5.6 3.0 0.5 0.6 1.2

Economics 2010

Recently the NBA front office has sent out a memo to teams about a potential reduction in the salary cap for 2010. According to the league conservative estimates has the cap shrinking to just under $54M, but it’s also possible to go as low as $50M. Of course the player’s union was upset at this memo, because it could lower rookie and free agent signings this year. The New York Times duo of Abras and Beck look over the numbers with Larry Coon as how they pertain to potential 2010 free agents.

The announcement added new dimensions to the landscape of next summer’s potential galaxy of star free agents. While teams have been budget conscious this summer, LeBron James may reconsider his plans. He is due $15.78 million for the 2009-10 season and $17.15 million if he plays the final season of his contract.

If James decides to forgo the final year, he will earn $16.59 million in the first season of a new contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers or another franchise. The number is a slight decrease from his current contract with the Cavaliers, under which he is set to make $17.15 million, and is based on his earning a 5 percent increase from his 2009-10 contract.

Under the collective bargaining agreement, there is a seniority system involving how much teams can pay in maximum salaries, broken into three categories.

James, Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade signed extensions after the 2006 season so that when their contracts expired, they would fall into the second tier of players who have tenure between 7 and 10 years. Their maximum salaries would be 30 percent of the salary cap or a 5 percent increase from their previous season’s salary.

The players could opt out and earn slightly less at the front end of the contract and make it back, based on annual raises, along with the security blanket of having a long-term contract, should they be injured.

Another option is that the star players could sign extensions to their current contracts, but that could put their earnings at the whim of the future collective bargaining agreement after the current lame duck system expires in 2011. At most, James could tack on three years to his current contract via an extension.

A player’s best interest, Coon said, may still be to test free agency. That would allow James and his peers to collect as many years as they can under the current collective bargaining agreement.

“Signing an extension is a mistake because you’re putting yourself in the mercy of an agreement that hasn’t been negotiated,” Coon said.

TrueHoop goes over four ways the lower salary cap helps the league.

$6.5 Million in Cash for Every Team on July 29
Remember the NBA’s escrow system? Basically, reported amounts for player salaries are not precisely the amounts they get. Instead, a percentage of every player salary is held aside, in escrow. At the end of the year, the league tallies up how much players made as a percentage of the league’s “basketball-related income.”

The result, is a pretty good recession buster for the owners. At the moment there’s nearly $205 million in the escrow account. $194 million of that, according to the memo, will be distributed equally to the 30 teams on July 29 — meaning each team gets $6,467,847 in cash. The rest goes towards benefits (a long story), meaning teams will also each be spared $363,087 they would have been expected to contribute for next year.

Lower Salaries for the Same Players
The news in the memo, undeniably, has the potential to simply reduce the price of top basketball talent (Andre Miller or Shawn Marion for the mid-level exception, anyone?). Any team hoping to sign LeBron James or any other 2010 free agent now has more impetus than ever to shed salary.

Luxury Tax Disbursements to 23 Teams
You probably know about the NBA’s luxury tax. A refresher: Teams pay one dollar to the NBA for every dollar they spend in salary in excess of a certain amount, which we now know was $71.15 million this past season. That means seven teams will pay, and they are, as Stein reports:

New York ($23,736,207), Dallas ($23,611,661), Cleveland ($13,707,010), Boston ($8,294,664), Los Angeles Lakers ($7,185,631), Portland ($5,899,356) and Phoenix ($4,918,136).

The other 23 teams, however, each get 1/30th of that money back, in cash. That means the 23 teams not listed above are each about to get $2,911,756, which is not a bad little shot in the arm.

Help for Low Revenue Teams
If you’re doing the math at home, you’ll realize that the luxury tax arrangement means the league is sending out 23 luxury tax payments, and each one of those is a 30th of what they took in.

And finally Alan Hahn details how this affects the Knicks pursuit of LeBron.

The current contracts on the payroll for 2010-11:
Eddy Curry $11.2M
Jared Jeffries $6.8M
Danilo Gallinari $3.3M
Wilson Chandler $2.1M
Jordan Hill $2.2M
Toney Douglas $892,500K
Total: $26.4M

With only six players under contract, and no first round pick (Utah has the rights to it) that leaves five “cap hold” slots (one left empty for the player you’re trying to sign) at $473,604 each and brings the total to $28.7M. Now, keep in mind, that is just in the current condition as we blog today. If the Knicks add any players — such as Grant Hill, or sign David Lee to an extension — the numbers obviously change. But we’re working off the current state of the payroll right now. We’ll use this as our base as the situation changes.

Now, if the early prognostications are accurate, the NBA salary cap could be as low as $50M in 2010-11. Let’s use that as our doomsday formula here. Keep in mind the projections could be wrong and the cap number could be higher, which would change everything. But if we believe the doomsday prophecies, that would leave — not counting Lee, Robinson or any other UFA’s holds and Bird Rights — just $21.3M in cap space for the Knicks to spend in free agency in the big summer of 2010. If you add just Lee, we’re talking significantly less money to spend in free agency under the cap. Perhaps not even enough to offer a max contract to LeBron James.

The CBA gives power to the “home” team for free agents. They have the ability to sign their own player to a maximum of six years with 10.5 percent raises each year. All other teams can only go five years at length and 8 percent.

In LeBron’s case — and that of Dwyane Wade, Chris Bosh, Joe Johson, Amare Stoudemire, et al — the plummeting NBA salary cap could actually result in taking a loss in the first season. Consider that LeBron’s option year of 2010-11 pays him $17.1M. If he opts out and the cap drops to $50M, the max LeBron would make in 2010-11, the first year of any new deal with any team, including Cleveland, is $15M.

The Cavs can go six years at 10.5 percent raises, which would make their maximum deal total about $116.5M, with an average of roughly $19.4M per.

A team such as the Knicks can only do five years, with 8 percent raises, which would make their maximum offer total about $88M, and an average of $17.6M per. Now the Knicks could be creative and perhaps give LeBron an opt-out after the third year (2013), when he will be 28 years old and still very much in his prime. The NBA has to certainly hope they have, by then, to have a new CBA in place and, God willing, the economy could be in a recovery, which would send the salary cap limits upward. The Knicks would have James’ Bird Rights and then could open the Cablevision vault.

Those are big ifs, of course.

If LeBron signs an extension this summer (July 18th is the date he can) with the Cavs, with the salary cap set at $57.7M, by the max contract formula (30 percent) he would get $17.3M in the first year (slightly more than the option year on the current deal) and the total package to stay in Cleveland would bring him a six-year deal worth about $134.9M, with $22.4M per annum.

2009 Report Card: Larry Hughes

Larry Hughes arrived in a midseason trade with Chicago. The Knicks were in dire need of a shooting guard precipitated by the Cuttino Mobley injury, and Hughes’ poisoned contract made him available. Back in 2005, Hughes was a highly sought after free agent, but he never lived up to his contract as LeBron’s sidekick, and Chicago fans soured on him quickly. In New York, he arrived with lesser expectations as fans were just happy that he had a normal beating heart.

Hughes has a reputation as a good defender and he seems above average to the eye. However 82games had the Knicks’ defense 4.2 points worse with him on the court. I’m inclined to give him a pass, and wait until next year to make a better judgment on his effectiveness.

On the other end of the court, there’s no doubt that Hughes was a huge detriment to the offense. His shooting efficiency numbers were atrocious: 44.8% eFG and 49.3% TS%. Basically his shooting was so bad, if it weren’t for Jared Jeffries he would be the worst among the Knick rotation players. Hughes’ ability to slash to the hoop has been diminished as witnessed by his shrinking free throw attempts (6.9 fta/36 in 2005 down to 3.5 last year). One thing he has improved on is his three point shot. Over the last 4 years, Hughes has averaged 35.6% from downtown.

Even at his peak, Hughes was never a good scorer. He’s had an eFG over 46% twice, and never has had his TS% go above 53%. At this stage he should be a deep option off the bench for defensive purposes, and be given limited opportunities on offense. A good litmus test for rookie Toney Douglas will be if he can supplant Hughes in D’Antoni’s rotation this season. Like Hughes, Douglas is a defensive specialist and you hope that he can put up better offensive numbers than Hughes.

Report Card (5 point scale):
Offense: 1
Defense: 3
Teamwork: 2
Rootability: 2
Performance/Expectations: 2

Grade: D+

Similarity Scores:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS% eFG% PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Larry Hughes 2009 TOT 13.4 .515 .469 15.6 0.4 3.9 2.9 1.8 0.3 1.7
.060 Byron Scott 1992 LAL 15.5 .537 .485 16.4 1.0 4.2 3.0 1.4 0.4 1.6
.061 Bobby Phills 2000 CHH 14.6 .524 .499 16.6 0.7 3.1 3.4 1.8 0.3 2.1
.068 Robert Reid 1986 HOU 13.7 .506 .468 16.5 1.1 5.0 3.7 1.5 0.3 1.6
.080 Mike Woodson 1989 HOU 12 .503 .455 16.7 0.8 3.1 3.3 1.4 0.3 2.2
.083 Lindsey Hunter 2001 MIL 14.8 .500 .478 14.8 0.6 3.0 4.0 1.8 0.2 1.2
.086 Blue Edwards 1996 VAN 11.9 .498 .463 13.5 1.3 4.5 2.8 1.5 0.6 2.2
.092 Todd Day 2000 PHO 13.2 .524 .491 15.1 1.2 4.9 2.5 1.7 0.8 1.9
.097 George McCloud 1998 PHO 12.7 .507 .488 13.5 1.3 6.5 2.5 1.6 0.4 1.9
.098 Trent Tucker 1990 NYK 12.0 .518 .496 13.9 1.2 3.6 3.6 1.5 0.2 1.5
.102 Cuttino Mobley 2006 LAC 13.1 .519 .467 14.1 0.6 4.1 2.9 1.1 0.4 1.8

Byron Scott was still a starter at the same age, but a year later would be his last as a starter. The year 2000 was Bobby Phils last, and Todd Day played one more season. I mention these three, because they have the highest TS% of the group, and they barely had careers in their 30s. It’s hard to imagine Hughes sticking around for much longer.

2009 Report Card: Nate Robinson

When the mainstream claims a player has a breakout season, it’s usually due to an increase in a player’s minutes per game which inflates his per game stats (see Eddy Curry’s 2007 season). Nate Robinson did see an increase in his minutes and had career highs in just about every per game stat. However his per minute stats verify that 2009 was a career year. The Knicks’ guard had career bests in per minute points, assists, rebounds, steals, fouls, and free throw attempts.

Year G FGA FG% 3PA 3P% FTA FT% ORB DRB TRB AST STL TOV PF PTS
2006 72 13.2 .407 3.4 .397 4.7 .752 1.3 2.6 3.9 3.4 1.4 2.7 4.7 15.6
2007 64 13.9 .434 5.7 .390 3.7 .777 1.5 2.6 4.0 2.4 1.3 1.9 4.2 17.1
2008 72 15.0 .423 5.6 .332 3.7 .786 1.0 3.3 4.2 4.1 1.1 2.0 3.6 17.5
2009 74 16.8 .437 6.3 .326 4.8 .841 1.6 3.1 4.7 4.9 1.5 2.3 3.4 20.7

Robinson has regressed from behind the arc posting his lowest seasonal percentage (32.6% 3p%), mostly due a stretch when he seemingly couldn’t buy a bucket. In December and January, Robinson was 37-175 (27.4%) from downtown. However his overall efficiency overcame this deficit with his ability to get to and convert from the line. In D’Antoni’s offense Robinson seemingly has carte blanche to go to the hoop, and he does with vigor. According to 82games, Robinson shot 59.6% eFG from “close”. Watching him, it’s amazing that the diminutive guard is able to score from inside so frequently and efficiently even with contact.

On the court Robinson has matured a little bit. His propensity to commit meaningless fouls has decreased, and D’Antoni keeps him from arguing with officials. Nate still has his eccentric theatrics, for example this season’s on the court Will Ferrell man-crush. It’s commonly thought that Robinson’s other big deficiency is his height. However teams didn’t exploit Robinson in this manner, as I rarely saw other guards post him up. Instead his true Achilles’ heel was revealed as he saw increased minutes this year: defending the pick and roll. Robinson goes under screens at a Jamal Crawford-esque rate, and frequently switches at ill opportune moments. At one point in the season Mike D’Antoni was visibly furious with Nate mid-game for his lack of effort on the defensive end. That Nate is unable to defend the pick and roll in a more physical manner is mind boggling, considering his football background.

Still all-in-all Nate was one of the more productive Knicks in 2009, and is worthy of a contract extension. His potent scoring is an asset alone, but Robinson contributes with passing, steals, and rebounds as well. He’ll probably always be a sixth man, partially due to his ability to create offense on his own with second team players. But it’s more likely that Nate will continue to come off the bench during his NBA career because of his lack of defense.

Report Card (5 point scale):
Offense: 5
Defense: 2
Teamwork: 2
Rootability: 4
Performance/Expectations: 5

Grade: B+

Similarity Scores:

z-Sum FLName Year Tm PER TS% eFG% PTS ORB TRB AST STL BLK TOV
.000 Nate Robinson 2009 NYK 18.9 .549 .498 20.7 1.6 4.7 4.9 1.5 0.1 2.3
.052 Eddie Johnson 1980 ATL 18.0 .538 .489 20.1 1.3 2.7 5.1 1.6 0.3 2.6
.060 Purvis Short 1982 GSW 18.8 .530 .491 22.1 2.5 5.4 4.2 1.3 0.2 2.5
.062 Michael Finley 1998 DAL 19.3 .522 .477 18.7 1.6 4.6 4.3 1.4 0.3 2.3
.077 Jason Terry 2002 ATL 19.2 .549 .500 18.2 0.5 3.3 5.4 1.7 0.2 2.2
.090 Brandon Roy 2009 POR 24.0 .573 .512 21.9 1.3 4.6 5.0 1.1 0.3 1.9
.096 Butch Carter 1983 IND 14.9 .549 .513 17.8 1.3 3.1 4.1 1.6 0.3 2.5
.100 Steve Smith 1994 MIA 17.2 .552 .499 17.5 2.0 4.6 5.1 1.1 0.5 2.6
.102 Jason Richardson 2005 GSW 19.0 .518 .492 20.6 1.7 5.6 3.7 1.4 0.4 2.2
.104 Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf 1994 DEN 16.7 .521 .476 19.8 0.4 2.3 5.0 1.1 0.1 2.1
.109 Andre Iguodala 2008 PHI 19.0 .543 .495 18.1 0.9 5.0 4.3 1.9 0.5 2.4
.111 Mike Glenn 1980 NYK 16.6 .557 .519 19.8 0.9 3.0 3.8 1.6 0.3 1.7

Looking over Nate’s comparable players is a decent list of players. Some offensively focused and defensively challenged shooting guards like Finley, Terry, Smith, and Richardson. Interestingly, there is a lack of undersized guards, not a single player on this list is shorter than 6’1, and the average height is just over 6’4. Nate certainly plays like a taller player, especially with respect to his rebounding and scoring efficiency. Overall his list is impressive for a player that will spend his career coming off the bench.

FA Day 1 Events Bring Lee Closer To New York

Two recent events could mean the Knicks are a bit closer to resigning David Lee. According to Yahoo, the Pistons have signed both Ben Gordon and Charlie Villanueva. Meanwhile ESPN reports that the Clippers have traded Zach Randolph to Memphis for Quentin Richardson. Both Detroit and Memphis were potential buyers for David Lee, with both the free agent space and a hole at power forward. So the only teams left that have the cap space that are likely to sign Lee are Oklahoma City, Toronto, and Portland. The Trailblazers are unlikely to offer Lee a contract, considering the depth they have at the forward and center positions.

However this doesn’t mean that Knick fans should run out and grab a David Lee jersey. New York could still deal Lee in a sign & trade to a team that lacks the cap space to sign him outright. And of course, even if the team does resign him, it doesn’t mean that Lee will spend the length of his contract in blue & orange.